John King Michael Byron

Thursday, October 23, 2014, @ 8PM
Roulette (509 Atlantic at 3rd Ave)


John King: Selections from “Free Palestine”

Michael Byron: ‘The Celebration’


Two major world premieres built around string quartets from two distinctive composers from New York’s Downtown scene.


Composer Michael Byron presents “The Celebration”, a one-hour song cycle for piano, string quartet and baritone, with Thomas Buckner (baritone), Joseph Kubera (piano) and the FLUX Quartet (Tom Chiu, Conrad Harris, violin; Max Mandel, viola; Felix Fan, cello), featuring texts by Anne Tardos. Consisting of four songs and two instrumental interludes, “The Celebration” explores the ambiguity, the disorientation, and ultimately thejoyful paradox of formulating an identity in a world of constant change.

Composer John King premieres selections from “Free Palestine”, an ongoing series of works for string quartet that explores maqam’at and iqa’at, the Arabic systems of pitch and rhythm. The title refers both to King’s hopes for peace and to the varying degrees of freedom he uses in adapting those Arabic systems to his music for string quartet. Cornelius Dufallo’s A Secret Quartet (with Jennifer Choi, violin; Lev Zhurbin, viola; Yves Dharamraj, cello) will premiere 9 pieces from this ongoing suite (currently numbering almost 20 separate works for string quartet). Each piece on this program uses indeterminacy and improvisation to organize sound and time, thereby providing energetic and visceral motifs encompassing the full range of expression possible from a string quartet.


Purchase Tickets



“There is a dark allure to Michael Byron’s music,
 a seductive otherness that leads, through fascination,
 to a gently disturbing ambiguity of emotion”.
- Kevin Macneil Brown, Dusted Magazine

“A set of compositions that are all very different from one another,
and that share a surprisingly organic sense of flow and structure.”
– New Music Box on John King

John King, composer, guitarist and violist, has received commissions from the Kronos Quartet; Red {an orchestra}, Ethel; the Albany Symphony/“Dogs of Desire”, Bang On A Can All-Stars; Mannheim Ballet; New York City Ballet/Diamond Project, Stuttgart Ballet, Ballets de Monte Carlo; as well as the Merce Cunningham Dance Co. His string quartets have also been performed by the Eclipse Quartet (LA) and the Mondriaan Quartet (Amsterdam). His quartet Crucible has premiered many of his compositions at The Stone (June 2007), The Kitchen (April 2009), Lincoln Center Festival (July 2011) and Roulette (2012). He has written 3 operas: “herzstück/heartpiece”, based on the text of Heiner Müller, premiered at the 1999 Warsaw Autumn Festival and presented at the Kitchen NYC in 2000 (a double-opera, co-written with Krzysztof Knittel); “la belle captive”, based on texts by Alain Robbe-Grillet, premiered at Teatro Colon/CETC in Buenos Aires in 2003, and toured to London’s ICA (Fronteras Festival) in 2004 and The Kitchen in 2005; and also his most recent opera, “Dice Thrown”, based on the Stéphane Mallarmé poem, an excerpt of which was performed by New York City Opera as part of its VOX series in May 2008. The complete staged version was presented at CalArts April 23-24, 2010. He has 3 recent CD releases of music for string quartet; 10 Mysteries and All Steel  (Tzadik); and Ethel (Cantaloupe). He was Music Curator at The Kitchen from 1999-2003 and from 2002-2011 was a co-director of the Music Committee at Merce Cunningham Dance Company. John King received the Music/Sound Award for 2014 from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and is the recipient of the 2009 Alpert Award in the Arts for Music.

Michael Byron (born September 7, 1953) is an American composer and editor of contemporary music anthologies.  Byron met percussionist (and already then new-music fan and record collector) William Winant in junior high school, and they became lifelong friends. Byron’s musical life in Los Angeles after graduating from high school in 1971 was enriched by his meeting the composer James Tenney in the autumn of that year. Soon thereafter he met Peter Garland (another lifelong musical friend), Lou Harrison, William Colvig, Robert Ashley (then at Mills College), and others active in the West Coast new-music scene. After arriving in New York, Byron wrote a variety of loud loosely-scored hardcore art rock/punk/noise works, performed by Byron with his friend Rhys Chatham, for lower Manhattan’s club scene during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Carles Santos performed his piano works at the Squat Theater, New York, on 15 December 1979. At the same time he was frequently engaged as a copyist and editor on various projects for La Monte Young, Robert Ashley, and others, and became involved with new ventures like The Kitchen, where, in 1980, his chamber piece “Tidal” was performed with the composer Julius Eastman conducting (“Tidal” was originally issued as an LP on Glenn Branca’s Neutral Records and recently re-released on Cold Blue Records). His music has been released on Cold Blue Music, Meridian Records, Koch Records and New World Records. He was the publisher and editor of the journal Pieces, and is published by Frog Peak Music. Byron lives with his wife, the poet Anne Tardos, in New York City.

The FLUX Quartet, “one of the most fearless and important new-music ensembles around” (Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle) “who has brought a new renaissance to quartet music” (Kyle Gann, The Village Voice), has performed to rave reviews in venues of all sorts, from Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and Kennedy Center, to influential art institutions such as EMPAC, The Kitchen, and the Walker Art Center, to international music festivals in Australia, Europe, and the Americas.  It has also premiered new works on numerous experimental series, including Roulette, Bowerbird, and the Music Gallery.  FLUX’s radio credits include NPR’s All Things Considered, WNYC’s New Sounds and Soundcheck, and WFMU’s Stochastic Hit Parade.  The group’s discography includes recordings on the Cantaloupe, Innova, Tzadik, and Cold Blue Music labels, in addition to two critically acclaimed releases on Mode Records that encompass the full catalogue of string quartet works by Morton Feldman.  The two volumes feature String Quartet No.1 and String Quartet No.2 — seminal large-scale late works by the iconic composer.

A Secret Quartet is resident new music ensemble at Vermont College of Fine Arts, with Cornelius Dufallo (ETHEL, Ne(x)tworks), Jennifer Choi (ETHEL, Either/Or), Lev Zhurbin (Ljova and the Kontraband), and Yves Dharamraj (Ne(x)tworks, Ensemble ACJW). During the 2014-2015 season they will be performing new & recent works by John King, Raz Mesinai, Michael Vincent Waller, Joan Jeanreneaud, & Evan Joseph Beigel.


509 Atlantic Ave
(On the corner of Atlantic + 3rd Aves)
Downtown Brooklyn, NY
2, 3, 4, 5, C, G, D, M, N, R, B & Q trains and the LIRR
(917) 267-0363